It really makes a difference in your life if you can figure out how to manage your boss. That almost never means actually telling him or her what to do—most bosses do not take kindly to that, as one would expect. But being able to step outside the relationship, depersonalize the interaction and figure out which moves on your end are going to get you what you want is an invaluable ability. It can make the difference between a dysfunctional and a functional relationship, even if the other person is inherently dysfunctional themselves. In fact, some dysfunctional managers are the easiest ones to manage: they are so clueless when it comes to personal interactions and what really works that making them think things have gone their way (while actually getting your own) is REALLY easy. Like, you-feel-guilty-easy because they were so simple about it, but at least the thing turned out the way you needed it to. And some people greatly benefit from some outside, benevolent manipulation--manipulative behavior doesn't have to be a bad thing, it only becomes damaging when the big picture is ignored in favor of more personally selfish goals.
Sometimes it’s not so easy though, and the hardest part for women particularly is depersonalizing interactions to the point where you can control the dialogue. Interpersonal objectivity is hard for us girls, we tend to react to everything in relation to ourselves and how we feel about ourselves. If someone is an ass, it’s upsetting (uncontrollable fight-or-flight reaction)—you want to avoid interacting with them at all, and it is hard to stand up under a real-time assault and keep your bearings enough to know what to do about it. If someone is too nice, it can be really hard to get them to act on issues that require more hardassedness, and (if you’re not an ass yourself) to make sure they are getting the benefit of the outcome you want to make happen when they can’t. But with all kinds of people and all kinds of relationships, it is possible to move beyond the level of “how do I feel about this?” to “how can I make this person feel the way I need them to about this?”
Obviously there’s no list of rules or tips for this kind of skill, and some people just have an unconscious knack for it. But it’s not impossible to learn how to better control your situation and interactions, and it makes you feel like your life is more your own. Practice is the best way to get better at it, practice with an open mind to what you can learn from a bad situation.